I’ve always been a proponent of keeping many doors open. By staying involved in several things at once, you maintain a diverse portfolio of opportunities that may lead you somewhere. Drew Moxon dubbed this “angel investing with time” – balancing a handful of personal energy investments on activities and projects in hopes that at least one will pay off the entire batch. No thoughtful gambler places all eggs in a single basket, right?
The risk, of course, is that you do not invest in one area of your life enough for a big win. Jack of all trades, master of none. You fail to specialize, focus and pour your heart into one great thing. I think mastery can work if you believe irrefutably in what you’re doing. If you don’t, you must continue to explore options until you find the perfect fit. Until then, stay involved. Perhaps you shouldn’t stick every finger in a different pie, but at least taste every flavor you can and give each one a fair shot.
What’s the point of telling people your goals?
You could tell to collect feedback or talk it out. But do you really want to risk someone dissuading you or talking down? It could hurt your goal.
You could tell to seek praise. But you haven’t succeeded yet, so what is there to praise? Few people in your life will really care enough to give you the glowing support you are looking for. The lukewarm response might put you down and choke your inspiration. It could hurt your goal.
You could tell to keep people updated or manage expectations. But what if your plans conflict with the interests of others? They might try to talk you out of it. If you mislead others with your plans and then fail, you can damage your relationships. The pressure and uncertainty can bog you down. It could hurt your goal.
You could tell to have others hold you accountable. But what stake do other people really have in your goal? Are they reliable? By passing off accountability for your goal to another person, you pass off responsibility for your goal and distance yourself from it. It could hurt your goal.
Think hard before sharing your plans with others. Depending on who you are sharing with and the reason why, it could be a good idea – or it could be fatal. I am often guilty of sharing my plans without purpose, and I am beginning to notice effects.
By telling other people, you separate yourself from your goals (as if you already accomplished them … but you haven’t). You only make it harder for yourself to succeed.
Frankly, the question is bullshit. We are guided to answer it with a profession, a title or a lifestyle.
“I want to be an artist.” “I want to be the president.” “I want to be a film director.” “I want to stay at home and raise my children.”
The problem? There’s far more to life than a title, many roads to travel, and too much time to do only one thing. Your answer will change. It has since you were born, it will continue to evolve until the day you die. My answer changed throughout my life from Locomotive Engineer to Meteorologist to Starship Captain to Video Game Designer to Film Producer to Technology CEO. I have been all over the map, with passion and curiosity. I am sure you have, too.
I understand the question. “What do you want to be?” It is a focusing mechanism, the answer of which can help guide you into the trials and tribulations of adulthood. Unfortunately, the question suggests that there is only one answer per person. It distinguishes between future (“what will you become”) and present (“what you are now”). And it prompts you to cite conventional societal roles or industries as a solution to your life problem. Woe is you if your job title is at the core of your eulogy.
I propose a new question:
“What is your purpose?”
Purpose is your mission in life, your agenda, the core principal that guides you when you wake up in the morning and drives you to make decisions. No matter the career or role you play, purpose underlies everything you say and do.
What would you die for?
I want to bring people together. That’s my purpose. And that purpose is far more noble and omnipresent than my resume or my title.